Tuesday, September 05, 2006

come to KOMI for the cuisine!

I actually wrote this entire review the other day and then deleted it by mistake! Don't you HATE THAT?

KOMI (1509 !7th St, NW, tel. 202-332-9200) reopened last year as a smaller more intimate experience than originally intended, and Chef JOHNNY MONIS clearly made the right move, as he won RISING CHEF of the YEAR at this year's Restaurant Awards back in June. This was my first visit, and I had to twist Will's arm, as he had been to Komi in its first incarnation and thought it a bit crowded and noisy. It is now much quieter with sparser table locations and a calm ambiance; beige-yellow walls and minimal decor make the food the center of attention (although I could have done without the woven mats on the table--it's odd how they are only on the tables for two, while all the other have beautiful white linens). Indeed, the brightest item in the place was a huge vase of gorgeous sunflowers on the center serving table.

Our server offered us tastes of the Greek white wines since we did not know them and we opted for the DOMAINE GEROVASSILIOU MALAGOUSIA 2004 from Macedonia which had a sweet nose (but was not sweet) and lots of delicious fruit on the palate especially white peach. It was perfect with the food.

The menu offers 4 first courses at $10 each, 6 Macaronia (pasta) at $14 each and 5 entrees at $27 each (some have $5 supplements) and a tasting option which includes one of each plus cheese and dessert for $67 (wines can be paired for $40 more). We decided to go ala carte and Will chose the Selection of MEZZETHAKIA consisting of crostini with tzatziki and taramasalata which was a creamier nouvelle version of the traditional dish (while not my favorite version it was nice, but not as good as our friend Maria makes), fried cheese and house cured olives. I fared better with the PAN FRIED SARDINES with CHICKEA & CUTTLEFISH which had four huge superb (if fishy) sardines and the most glorious chickpea and cuttlefish salad on the side. We had received an amuse at the start of OVEN ROASTED DATES Stuffed with MASCARPONE and drizzled with Olive Oil & Sea Salt, but they were so hot we had them at this point, and they were a perfect palate cleanser for both our starters. YUM YUM!

The pastas were superb with Will opting for the RISOTTO with SEA URCHIN and a LOBSTER STOCK & Peas which was scrumptiously creamy and with little pieces of sea urchin on top that were yummy. My BOULETTAS with CRAB, HOT PEPPER & CHERRY TOMATO were gnocchi-like pasta perhaps closer to matza balls in weight and the peppers packed a mini punch in every third or so bite...perfecto!

We spoke to the sommelieuse at length about the red wines and were seeking a Pinot Noir to pair with both entrees, but ended up with a ROCCHE COSTAMAGNA ROCCARDO 2002 from Piedmont which is 100% Nebbiolo and worked perfectly-she knew her wines well. It was great with Will's WHITE TUNA with SPECK & FARRO (grain), Spinach & Pine Nuts, a quite filling dish indeed. My STUFFED RABBIT with STINGING NETTLES, PROSCIUTTO & PARMAGIANI with Creamy Polenta and Baby Carrots was one of the most beautiful presentations ever with each slice of white loin split with the green nettles and wrapped in prosciutto. The dozen or so slices were arranged over the polenta giving a chess-board feel that was almost too beautiful to disturb!

We were totally full, but could not neglect dessert (then you would have begged me to go back!)..so Will had the SORBETS of GREEK YOGURT(a real novel treat), BLACKBERRY & PEACH that were some of the best he ever had ANYWHERE. I had the WARM STONE FRUIT (yellow and white nectarines) with ALMOND CAKE and ALMOND GELATO which was quite tasty as well, even if I could not finish.

We went home vowing to return to KOMI and rising chef Monis again soon!